Personally, I blame it all on GP2. He wanted an apple. We were heading, in the blinding afternoon sun, temperature c. 400 C, towards the fruit and vegetable market at the time, so it didn’t seem an entirely unreasonable request. However, I still think it was his fault.
But before that, let’s go back a year or two to the first time I did my supermarket shopping on the internet. It seems so easy, doesn’t it? You sit at the comfort of your desk, no time wasted, no oil consumed driving to the next town. You wander leisurely down the aisles with your mouse, no trollies to push, no arguments with the children about which over-packaged yoghurts or tooth rotting, trans-fat laden biscuits and crisps to buy this week. Click, click, click and there’s your shopping done.
Mmm. If only it were that simple. The first hour and a half was spent meticulously compiling my perfect weekly shop in one long, computer literate list. The second hour and a half was spent repeating the exercise after my first list was swallowed wholesale into the yawning depths of my computer, never to be seen again. At least, that was what I hoped. There was a nagging suspicion that I might receive two lots of groceries. By this time I was thinking it would surely have been quicker and used less energy if I’d gone to the shop myself. But most people don’t really want to go to the supermarket at midnight, do they? Punctuating the entire exercise was the frustration of grappling with quantities. Was I ordering 1 packet or 1 box of lots of packets? 500 gm or 500 bags, each weighing a kilo? Would the packers interpret my midnight ramblings with a modicum of common sense or would they follow my instructions to the letter?
The answer arrived with the shopping. I was giving away grapes to anyone who would have them for the rest of the week. Even GP2 can’t eat that many grapes in a week. To give the packers their due, I might have been planning to host a grape-trampling, wine-making festival. How were they to know?
Anyhow, back to the fruit market in Abu Dhabi as of course that’s where this story began. They saw us coming. We must have been spotted from 500m, the only white faces (and they were white – it was too hot for sunbathing) in the vicinity, heading in their direction.
I confess I made the first mistake. “Oh look! Rambutans!” I love rambutans. They conjure all sorts of memories of a young child in Malaya climbing the rambutan tree in the garden. And memories of guinips in Jamaica, not so exotic looking but similarly delicious to eat. The words were barely out of my mouth before the stall holder was wrapping a box of rambutans for us. Oh, and a box of mangosteens while his partner peeled an orange for us to try. We could protest all we liked but there was no stopping them. We ended up with rambutans, mangosteens, a box (yes, a box) of oranges, grapes. And, of course, one apple and one pear. We suspect the stallholder may have retired on the takings. If he didn’t retire, he would surely have taken his whole family out to dinner.
This of course wouldn’t have been so bad if we’d not been going home the next day. We ate a lot of fruit in the next 24 hours and, of course, we laughed a lot. The rambutans were good but I have to say I can still taste the oranges. Fragrant, sweet, juicy. They were delicious. Worth every dirham.